The Philippines’ Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a new biometric administration system for its prisons. While the system will offer a number of benefits, its primary aim is to ensure that prisoners are not kept confined beyond their sentences.
According to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, there have been cases of prison administrators hiding or destroying the records of inmates in order to ensure that they stay incarcerated past their release dates; she speculated this activity may be part of a scheme for financial gain. Whatever its cause, the practice is expected to stop with the introduction of the new Inmate Management Information System, which will help to ensure that inmates’ criminal information is accurately maintained, partly through the use of biometric identification. The system is also designed to allow prison administrators to monitor inmate activity, and eventually, through the implementation of electronic kiosks, inmates will be able to access their electronic records themselves, according to the DOJ.
Biometric inmate identification systems currently represent a novel frontier in the broader biometrics field, but deployments are starting to appear, as in the case of the Dutch Custodial Institutions Service last year. In the case of the Philippines, the deployment may reflect a growing interest on the government’s part in biometric technology, as the country’s election commission has been pushing to register the biometric data of all eligible voters in anticipation of next year’s national election. As for prison system deployment, if the technology does indeed help to better manage prison populations – and to ensure that prisoners don’t overstay their terms – it could be a very welcome development for all concerned.
September 10, 2015 – by Alex Perala